The Great Barrington Police Department is adding a Community Policing/Therapy Dog to its K9 Patrol Division and Officer Kristopher Balestro will be the dog’s handler. Great Barrington Police will be the first police agency in Berkshire County to deploy such a dog.

The department will be working with an English Labrador Retriever that will be donated by Boonefield Labradors from Rindge, New Hampshire. A trained Therapy Dog is a valuable supplement to the department's resources. The function of the Therapy Dog is to provide interaction during investigations involving children or adults to reduce anxiety and increase communication between the adult or child victim/ witness and investigators, to provide comfort for people during times of crisis and to provide aid and comfort to individuals, groups and communities impacted by violence, tragedy or traumatic events.

The Therapy Dog is also a valuable tool in fostering dialog and communications between the police department and the community they serve. The Therapy Dog can effectively be used in the department's community policing efforts with their Community Relations Team.

Officer Balestro will incorporate this dog into his everyday patrol responsibilities, including visits to local schools, the Town Library, Senior Center, hospital and nursing homes, athletic events and children’s programs. A Therapy Dog will also provide therapeutic relief to the department's officers and police department staff. The possibilities to serve the department's fellow officers and community are endless according to Great Barrington Police.

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This new program began several months ago and was spearheaded by Sergeant Paul Storti. You will see some updates soon according to Great Barrington Police. They hope to welcome this new addition around the middle of August. This program is funded 100% by donations and Officer Balestro.

For more information or any questions, contact Officer Balestro at 413-528-0306 ext 140.

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